Members of the State Board, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of arguments for and against the flow objectives. I’ll add a couple more arguments in favor, hoping that I am not repeating the comments you’ve already heard.
- I saw the rally outside the capital today. There were a lot of people holding signs, saying that they depend on the status quo. I point out that the rivers would have had a similar constituency had they not been destroyed and blocked off from the public. If the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne were still living public rivers, there would be people who love them to rallying at the capital to urge you to protect them. If the situation were reversed, if you were deciding whether to let the flow of the Russian River dwindle to 11 percent, or dry to muddy flats in the summer, you’d have everyone in Sonoma and Mendocino counties at rallies at the capital, telling you that their river is crucial to them. Yes, there was a crowd at the capital today, speaking for diverting water to ag. The other side is missing because their rivers are missing. The people who remember those rivers still yearn for them.
- If you believe that systemically returning flows to rivers for the sake of California’s ecosystems should be done, then I hope you also realize that this is your best chance to do it. It is a weighty responsibility, and I know you take the opposing perspectives seriously. (A lot more seriously than I would prefer, honestly.) But this moment won’t necessarily come again if postponed. After the administration changes, you could be just like the rest of us, sitting at a screen, wishing we could make things right, trying to find the right words to convince people with the authority you have right now to bring back our rivers. Affirming the Lower San Joaquin River flows will earn you a longlasting reputation on both sides. In the long run, I think you will be proud of wrenching Californian water onto a parallel track, where rivers live and private economic uses of water are checked.